Mouth Cancer Cases To Double By 2035

Cases of mouth cancer in Northern Ireland are set to double in the next sixteen years, experts have warned.

Some 233 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer on average each year, many of which are at a late stage, with 95 of those patients dying from the disease.

Cancer Focus NI and the British Dental Association (BDA) have joined forces to mark Mouth Cancer Mouth and raise awareness of the early signs and symptoms, which can transform low chances of survival upon diagnosis to over 90%.

The main risk factors highlighted by the organisations are smoking and drinking alcohol, which together account for around 75% of mouth cancers.

People who both drink and use tobacco are up to 30 times more likely to develop the condition.

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is another leading cause and the recent move to extend the vaccine to adolescent boys in Northern Ireland will save lives, according to Gerry McElwee, Head of Cancer Prevention at Cancer Focus NI.
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"The message is clear - stop smoking, reduce your intake of alcohol, eat a healthy diet with at least five daily servings of fruit and vegetables and remember that early diagnosis can really make the difference," he advised. "Make sure you visit a dentist and check your mouth regularly - it might just save your life."

The BDA aims to ensure that mouth cancer features strongly in the new Northern Ireland Cancer Strategy.

Caroline Lappin, Council Chair at BDANI, said: "Clearly public awareness of mouth cancer compared with other cancers is low. This has got to change. It's alarming that around 70% of mouth cancers are detected at a late stage because people don't know the warning signs. This often results in lower chances of survival. However, early detection transforms survival chances to more than 90%.

"It's important to be 'mouth aware'. Look out for any changes in the mouth such as an ulcer that doesn't heal or any unusual changes in the mouth, lips, head and neck. Dentists can play an important role in detecting changes so do visit your dentist regularly and seek professional help if you have any concerns."

Visit Cancer Focus to find out more about mouth cancer. The organisation also provides information and support via Nurse Line to people worried about, or affected by cancer.

For advice contact the Cancer Focus NI information and support Nurse Line on 0800 783 3339, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 1pm, or by email at helpline@cancerfocusni.org.


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